All locally-assembled and imported vehicles sold in the Kingdom will have to comply with the Euro 5 standard by 2021, while hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs) must be Euro 6-compliant, the Bangkok Post reports.

The country’s Office of Industrial Economics (OIE) has ordered car manufacturers and vehicle importers to work towards the requirement, which is aimed at helping reduce the levels of smog and PM2.5 particles in the country, which are mainly released from car emissions. The 2021 timeframe, which gives related parties one to two years to comply, will also prepare the market ahead of plans by the National Environment Board to enforce the Euro 5 standard by 2023.

Currently, locally-assembled passenger cars and pick-ups in the country comply with the Euro 4 standard, but 27 eco-cars under the second phase are set to follow Euro 5 regulations. The report adds that 11 mid-sized and large Thai-made vehicle models already meet Euro 5 standards, as do 19 imported passenger cars, while 84 imported models meet the Euro 6 standard. Only diesel-powered buses and trucks on the roads are still at Euro 3 levels.

According to OIE director-general Nattapol Rangsitpol, the agency has been calling for an upgrade to Euro 5, but many car companies have pushed back against the plan, saying it would cost roughly 15,000-20,000 baht (RM1,960-RM2,610) more per car.

He disagreed with the numbers. “We already estimated the extra cost and it will not be as high as the manufacturers mentioned,” he said. Nattapol added that while he OIE has not yet received positive response from automakers about the switch to Euro 5, “based on market sentiment, each automaker is introducing new models compliant with Euro 5, not Euro 4.”

“I think it is time for all related agencies in the country to change their environmental policies, and the Euro 5 and 6 standards should be enforced within one to two years. Thailand cannot fall 14-15 years behind Europe, and each stakeholder in the country should help, even if there is a high cost initially,” he said.

He said that a study conducted by the OIE found that once all vehicles comply with Euro 5 within two years, the country can reduce PM2.5 particles by 80%, or 37,391 tonnes, from 2020. Nattapol added that the pollution problem is dire and causes hardship, citing that for example, people have to pay 18,250 baht (RM2,390) per person per year for N95 masks and 19,900 baht (RM2,600) per household for air filters.